A few words from our sponsors

A Few Words From Our Sponsors is a new quarterly segment brought to you by our local business sponsor,  Moustaches Are Us, suppliers of quality moustaches to existentialists and philosophers for over 150 years. Below are our favourite words for Spring.

*

Posthumous

the state of despair arrived at when you have eaten all your hummus* and have none left to dip that last bit of pita bread into. (*some spell it humus or humous – a tasty dip of Lebanese origin, made from chickpeas.) Some believe that this state can lead to questioning the very meaning of existence and that it may have been a hummus shortage that triggered the beginnings of the existentialist movement in the late 19th Century.

 

Rejected cover art for the biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

A rejected submission for the cover of a biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

Phosphorescence

a word designed for the sole purpose of having a softly soothing word to whisper quietly to yourself in the dead of night when you cannot sleep. Try it tonight! For certain success, drink a large glass of brandy and swallow a valium before you crawl into bed to begin. As a cure for insomnia, the Phosphorescence method is highly recommended by Lady Macbeth, and endorsed by Dorothy Parker.

rhythm

a word that will forever feel incomplete, because of the oversight of the powers-that-be, who did not include a silent n at the end of this word when they built the original. This author bravely attempted, back in Grade 6, when taking part in the combined primary schools spelling bee, to bring this scandalous oversight to light, but her efforts to highlight the need for an n on the end of rhythm did not get the swell of community support hoped for, so rhythm continues to always seem one (silent) letter short of its full potential.

unrequited (by request from the Department of Speculation)

A word brimming with possibilities, but mainly only if you are playing the game where you locate other words hidden within it. This author put her timer on for 3.25 minutes and located the following:

quite

quiet

quieted

it

queer

tied

diet

die

tired

tried

ride

If you can find other words, please leave these in the comments below, to go into the draw to win one of our Existential Moustaches for October.

billious

this word is the result of a dysfunctional union between two already icky words: bile and ill, but that second syllable in billious adds a whole other dimension to it, making this writer imagine a sickly, yellow hue, and think of movement in a circular direction, all of which seems to suggest very clearly the vomit that is probably churning ferociously up your intestines as you read this.

orangutang

Nietzsche famously remarked that it’s a myriad of pleasure just to pronounce the word orangutang, let alone to visit the obligingly zany creature at the zoo. (I believe Nietzsche actually confided to a friend that in fact he got even greater enjoyment from the phrase, Hubba Bubba, and had spent many delightful evenings engaged in smoking his pipe on the verandah and repeating that diverting phrase to himself, but conceded that orangutang was a strong second choice and gave him a chuckle every now and then.) The burning question is, why has no-one named a tangy orange drink Orang-u-tang? Red bulls have a drink named after them, why not orangutangs? You heard it here first.

ferocious

While we are making predictions, this word has so much presence all by itself that it is just begging to be the startling, one-word title of the next Man Booker Prize winning novel, and following that, the Hollywood film based on the novel, starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Maggie Smith. (I really wanted Jake Gyllenhaal but he just wasn’t quite right for the part.)

ricochet

ricochet is fun to say. We like words that are fun to say, but we also like it when, in our imaginations at least, the word seems to convey the concept. Ric-o-chet sounds to us like the pinballs bouncing from one corner to another inside a pinball machine.

And that’s it for our words for this quarter. Stay tuned for summer when we will bring you another round, courtesy of Moustaches Are Us.

 

The history of Nietzsche’s moustache

I must begin with an apology.

It seems that I have lately been remiss in providing up-to-the-moment news for those readers who only subscribed in the first place because they need regular updates on the moustache of Mr. Freidrich Nietzsche.

Now, admittedly this blog was not originally created to be the newsletter, (dare I say, mouthpiece?) for the above-mentioned moustache, but in an unexpected turn of events, a few years ago I was undertaking some academically rigorous research on the topic of Existentialism, for a post about Samuel Beckett, and reading up on Nietzsche, when I became completely distracted by a picture of Nietzsche’s moustache, featured on the Wikipedia page about the gentleman in question. That particular picture has since been changed, but can be seen here, in a post I was immediately compelled to write about the moustache.

Little did I realise the train of events that would be put in motion with that post! (Namely, that I would go on to obtain a degree with honours in writing posts about moustaches.*)

As soon as I beheld that creature moustache, it immediately became clear to me that it deserved its own social media campaign. Perhaps not so much “deserved”, as “commanded me to create” its own social media campaign. (Whether this moustache has brain-washing powers is not for me to say).  (In fact I am forbidden to).

(I can’t help but note that his moustache looks like a living creature in its own right. I can imagine the moustache starring as a parasite in a creepy short story written by Patricia Highsmith, in which it crawls around on the face of a human by day, making a horrible high-pitched scratchy noise, and at night – slowly sucks the human’s brains out, disguising the effect so that syphilis* is diagnosed as the cause of madness).

Before we get too carried away in fantasy, let’s stop for a moment and look at this far-fetched notion of brain-washing moustaches. It’s well known that Nietzsche died in 1900, so in fact it’s unlikely that his moustache has been up to much since then. I’m almost certain that it could not be brain-washing people in 2014 via a Wikipedia page.

But, on the social media front, as we know, just because something does not exist, does not mean that there can’t be a Facebook page devoted to it.

As it happens, Nietzsche’s moustache, (much like Nietzsche himself) was very vocal about its contempt for Facebook, but the moustache (unlike the philosopher) was more open-minded when it came to the idea of being featured in a blog. Or at least, when I proposed this idea, it made a horrible, scratchy, high-pitched noise, which I could only interpret as either, “cool idea!” or, “I’m about to leap off this face and stick my hairy fangs into your neck!”

The reason for all this focus on such a hideous thing as a huge, repugnant moustache is that, after extensive analysis of the most popular search terms on my blog, it’s clear that Nietzsche’s moustache hovers consistently around 2nd or 3rd place in popularity. Clearly there is a demand out there, for huge, repugnant moustaches, and like most other commercial enterprises earning massive amounts of money, I am merely responding to demand.

(I just remembered that I’m not a commercial enterprise earning huge amounts of money. Damn that brain-washing moustache!)

Strangely enough, the most searched term on my blog indicates that people spend a lot of time looking for information on facial features of well-known people. The top searched term on my blog is for another specific facial/cranial feature, belonging to another specific and well-known person. I’m sorry to say that the second-place-getter, ie, the Nietzsche Moustache, will probably never surpass the winner, a very specific pair of celebrity ears.

To finally get to the point of this post, this entire post is, in fact, a response to a recent search term: “Nietzsche moustache history.” This search term made me realise what a glaring omission it is that, as yet, I have not presented the entire history of the infamous moustache in one post. So here it is, as gleaned from the moustache’s diary entries and the observations of commentators at the time.

15 October 1844 – Nietzsche was born early this morning, and with him – glorious me! This was disconcerting for the nurses, who had never seen a newborn with a prominent, hairy moustache, and promptly gave him a good shave, but never fear, I will be back. Humans will not hold me down.

Nietszche as a baby, in-between shaves.

Nietszche as a baby, in-between shaves.

October 1871 – well it’s taken me a while to write, but it’s hard for a moustache to get its hands on pen and paper. We are here in Basel, hanging out with some other philosophers and professors. I’m thriving in the warm Autumn we are having this year.

Nietzsche.later.years

A thriving moustache living on the face of a philosopher (no editing!)

Sometime in 1879 – I’ve been helping Nietzsche with his philosophical writing. So far I’ve been successful in causing him to be very pessimistic about humankind. This is partly aided by the fact that I am now such a massive growth on his face that no-one can understand what he is saying, which causes him to feel somewhat isolated. On the plus side, he is developing a reputation for making deep and meaningful remarks at the drop of a hat. In fact, usually all he has said is, “pardon me, you dropped your hat”, but due to my presence, his speech is so muffled that the listener hears some mumbling and interprets it as “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” *

Nietzsche animatedly talks about his latest theories

Nietzsche animatedly talks about his latest theories – or the weather, it’s hard to tell.

 

1883 – Nietzsche now only has me to talk to. He has named me Zarathustra, which I consider is a suitably imposing name for a moustache the size of myself.

 

1885 – Nietzsche has published a book of my speeches – entitled Thus Spake Zarathustra! Quite rightly, I am the first moustache to have my ideas put into print for the world to read. I told you they would not keep me down.

 

1900 – Nietzsche has passed away. I have to admit, this is a slight set-back in my plans for world domination. Hopefully I can overcome it if I can just find another human face to attach myself to. That shouldn’t be hard….if I can just work out how to get out of this bloody coffin!

 

 *

* I have no such degree, in fact, I don’t think that Melbourne University even offers a degree in Moustache Analysis in the much-lauded “Melbourne Curriculum”. At time of publication, they have not returned my phone calls so I am unable to verify this.

Academics at Melbourne University converge to discuss the merits of introducing a degree in writing about moustaches.

Academics at Melbourne University held a conference to discuss the possibility of introducing a degree in writing about moustaches.

 

*It was originally thought that it was syphilis that caused Nietszche’s death but more recently this has been called into question.

*Quote from Nietszche obtained at Brainy Quote. (I didn’t have any copies of his work lying around.) More on just how misinterpreted Nietszche was during his lifetime can be read here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things that Nietzsche might have said

A long, long time ago, I spotted a photo of Nietzsche on the internet and was so taken aback at the size of his ridiculous moustache, that I was compelled to write at least one, if not two, posts about the topic of said moustache. It seemed as though I had got the moustache out of my system at that time, but today I found myself thinking again about the moustache and its human ecosystem.

I was thinking about the proverb, “There’s no point crying over split milk”, and how it would be expressed by someone, like Nietzsche, who questions at a philosophical level the apparent meaningless of human existence. To such a person, clearly there is no point crying over split milk, just as there is no point to any action or thought we may have. Paradoxically, therefore, crying over split milk has as much point as anything else you could do during your fundamentally pointless existence. Perhaps an existentialist would say, “There is no point observing that there is no point crying over split milk.”

Then I had a revelation that could require the re-writing of history, at least with regards to existentialism. It occurred to me that Nietzsche’s horrendous moustache must have muffled anything he said, and that perhaps he had been misinterpreted all this time.

Perhaps, for example, one morning, his housekeeper (who prefers not to be named in this article) dropped the bucket of milk he (no gender stereotyping in this story) had just brought home from the Milkbar, and began to cry in frustration, and because it had been expensive. Nietzsche pragmatically said, “Well, Socrates, there’s no point crying over split milk” – but through the wall of noise-muffling hair on his face, what the housekeeper heard was, “We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.”

Could be saying anything, I can’t tell.

Another time, perhaps, Nietzsche was questioned about how he managed to keep up his academic writing at the same time as tweeting hourly and keeping up with all his followers on his popular Twitter account, @nopointtoexistence. He responded by saying briskly, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”, but again, the virtual sound-proofing of that hairy protuberance meant that the interviewer was left to interpret his muffled rumblings, and thought that he had said What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.”

Another day, perhaps out with friends, and wearing, as usual, his gold rings, earrings, necklaces, toe-rings, and nose-rings, Nietzsche was amused to hear for the first time, the term “bling”. He commented wryly, ” All that glitters is not gold”. But his friends interpreted his comment as “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”

So it seems that poor old Nietzsche was merely spouting a few old tried and true proverbs, but has been written up in the history books as having been an intellectual, obsessed with the nature of meaning and existence. I blame that moustache.

How it could have been, if only he’d trimmed that damned moustache!

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Part of the fun of a blog is that you get to observe a little snippet of what search terms people all over the world are typing into their internet browsers. It’s an insight into what really occupies people’s minds when they should be doing other things.

Take that young  investment banker over there, hair in a tight pony tail, and an extra large cafe latte next to her computer, typing away madly. Is she calculating how much interest her client’s investments are going to make? No, she’s typing “Nietzsche moustache” into her search engine (it’s in the top 50 search terms on my blog). Or that policeman, hunched at a desktop computer, frowning with concentration and typing with his index fingers. Is it an incident report that he is painfully inputting into his computer? No, he’s just typed “Nigella Lawson ears” into his browser. (that term has been searched for multiple times).

Sometimes it’s the mere fact that certain silly terms come up multiple times that is amusing. Who knew so many people were interested in cockroach costumes, dangerous yoga mats, rhino eyes, medieval beheadings, or “nick cave fake moustaches”? Not to mention Air Supply, which I won’t do, since I’ve mentioned them plenty of times before.

Then of course there are the terms that come up one time only, terms that are as unique and individual as the little grain of sand person who wrote them. Eg:

Jimble box jellyfish

rhino stumbling

horse moustache

please don’t piss on our heads and tell it’s raining (sic)

don’t feed the cockroaches

men crying on planes

avocado eyes

existentialism distracted by angst *

fuzzle webcams

are you lonely then call a meeting **

pregnant lady doing yoga and got stuck

how do I stop bleeding naturally on my amputated finger ***

being framed for hacking into facebook and my ip comes up help!!!!!

It’s a little bit mind boggling to wonder what was going on in some of those people’s heads. Or in some cases, hands.

For all the giggles I might get from the above, there are also some sad little snippets of other people’s lives, as evidenced by what they are searching for. For example:

don’t depend on anyone because even your shadow leaves you when you’re in darkness

why did my brother died suddenly (sic)

my mind has so much sadness what to do

my healthy brother suddenly stopped breathing and died

why my brother died

It is sobering, to be reminded of the sadness in the world, and that there are people out there feeling so much despair that they hope to find comfort by typing their feelings into a search engine.

Yet perhaps that in itself is not as sad as it seems. There can be comfort in knowing that other people have been through, or are going through, the same thing as you are. In this age of instant and accessible communications, that is actually one of the positive functions that so many personal blogs and websites can achieve. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to the people around you about how you feel, especially when they are not feeling the same way.

So, to those who were searching “why my brother died” – I’m so sorry for your loss.

I imagine that perhaps, like me, you hoped to hear from other people who had gone through the same thing. Perhaps, like me, you even held a deluded hope that you’d eventually locate an answer that proved that he hadn’t died at all. Or that announced that death is not as final as what we are always hearing.

But he’s been gone for 7  months now, and I haven’t found that answer yet.

*

*existentialism distracted by angst – an intriguing notion that certainly distracted me!

**be bored instead of lonely

*** I’m no first aid expert but I’d suggest that wrapping it up tightly and calling an ambulance would be more effective than using your amputated stump to type first aid questions into a computer!

Competing Moustaches

As so often happens, it seems as if I unwittingly tuned into the Zeitgeist, and grotesque moustaches are the latest must-have item. The Age must have got wind of my high rating, crowd pleasing* posts on Nietzsche’s moustache, and decided to compete with me, by featuring a different but almost as hideous moustache on the cover of the A2 this past Saturday.

When I saw the face of Mark Twain and his grizzly looking moustache,  it seemed uncanny, that right after my recent post about Nietzsche’s facial hair, The Age had also decided that some old guy with way too much unkempt hair on his face was worthy of an article.

Of course I could have posted a picture of Mark Twain, to illustrate the moustache, but really, there comes a point where you don’t really want your blog full of pictures of mouldy old men from the 19th Century with moustaches taking up half of their faces. (You don’t really want to be writing about them endlessly either, so don’t ask me why on earth I am still doing that.) (I swear this will be the last time.)

I think in the year 2010, Mark Twain’s popularity  is probably best summed up by the fact that when I looked up The Age website to find the article again, it says on the side bar, “You are the only person reading this post. Tell your friends!” Hmmmm. Maybe I hang out with an illiterate bunch of no-hoper generation Xers, but somehow I imagine If I was to alert my friends that I’m reading an online article about Mark Twain, they would probably de-friend me. And that’s without even being on Facebook. Yeah, that’s what I like about my generation.

If you would get a kick out of being the only person reading Don Watson’s article on Mark Twain, here it is. But don’t get too excited, there is no picture on the online article. That treat was saved for people who actually paid to get the paper, so that they could eat their breakfast while they looked at it. 

Mmmmm…milk! Some people have it for breakfast. (I can’t stand the stuff, but it’s better than another picture of a hairy moustache))

Anyway,  I realise that perhaps I am just making an unfair and discriminatory judgement on Mark Twain based purely on his facial hair, and perhaps he has a lot of fans out there.

So rather than spend any more time pondering how little I know about Mark Twain, instead I made a picture of how Nietsche might have looked if he’d had his moustache trimmed.

Nietzsche’s smile courtesy of The Age Good Weekend magazine

See – much happier!

*( in a crowd of imaginary people) (obviously all with moustaches)

More on Nietzsche and his moustache

Nietzsche talks animatedly about his latest theories

 

Nietzsche and his accidental, existential moustache

An unknown (but apparently real) reader (oh, alright! It was my sister. Thanks Cath!) posted a comment referring to Beckett as an “accidental existentialist.” I like this term. It sounds like the name for a new play by Tom Stoppard: The Accidental Existentialist. Can you be an existentialist by accident? Perhaps I am an existentialist and don’t even know it? After asking myself these questions, I had to admit that I couldn’t answer them, since I wasn’t even completely sure what existentialism means. So, lacking a copy of “Existentialism for Dummies,” naturally I turned to Wikipedia for an answer.

There I discovered that:

Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche were two of the first philosophers considered fundamental to the existentialist movement…. (and that)…. they were interested in people’s quiet struggle with the apparent meaninglessness of life and the use of diversion to escape from boredom

I can see why people mistake Beckett for an existentialist…based on that description, it seems a fair mistake to make.

Anyway! Once at the Wikipedia page, I was completely distracted by the enormous moustache perched on the face of Friedrich Nietzsche.

(Could this be deliberate? Do they track how many people immediately go to the Nietzsche page and from there start googling images of moustaches? Maybe it’s an experiment to prove that people who think they want to read about philosophy would actually rather giggle at pictures of large moustaches to divert themselves from the boredom of wondering about the meaninglessness of life?)

A creature crawls across the face of an existentialist.

One look at that moustache and you can easily understand why Nietzsche developed a philosophy based around alienation, despair, angst and absurdity. All I wonder is, which came first – the moustache or the philosophy?

Perhaps it went down like this. Maybe he had a run in with a renegade barber, who, to get revenge, glued a toupee he had lying around, under Nietzsche’s nose while he was in the barber’s chair. Unfortunately for Nietzsche, this barber had developed an early prototype for what became Supa Glue in the 20th Century, and the toupee was never able to be removed.

If this story is true (so far I haven’t come across any source that directly disputes it), this not-so-little moustache arrived at a crucial point in the development of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Stay with me: it was during a fit of angst that he fought with the barber. The fight resulted in him ending up with a toupee permanently stuck on his face, and that was obviously absurd. Because he now looked comically grotesque, no-one took him seriously any more so he was for ever in despair. And the moustache directly thwarted all his future attempts at communicating with the rest of the world*, thereby  causing him to feel alienated from the rest of society.

Thus was born existentialism.

 

*Tragically, as it had to travel through all that hair, his voice lost all it’s volume by the time it got through, so when he spoke, people heard a muffled sound and assumed his tummy was rumbling. Since his mouth was completely hidden there were no visual clues that he was speaking. There was no internet in those days so he couldn’t write  a blog.

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